Rhode Island’s Sports Scene Packs a Big Punch

State-of-the-art venues and budget-friendly options abound in this New England sports hub

The Rhode Island Convention Center can accommodate large events such as gymnastics competitions. Credit: USA Gymnastics

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The following article appeared in the 2019 Sports Planning Guide. Download the full guide below.

Did you know the nation’s smallest state is also home to a flourishing sports scene? This coastal New England state doesn’t compromise quality for quantity as you will soon see – the state’s capital, Providence, is home to a wealth of facility options that are sure to make any sports planner’s job easier. From selecting a venue to coordinating travel and logistics, the knowledgeable staff at the local Convention and Visitors Bureau, Go Sports RI, are here to help. No matter the sport, season, or event size, Providence can take your event to the next level.

Notable Recent/Upcoming Events

  • Trilogy Lacrosse (July 12–15, 2018)
  • USA Gymnastics National Congress (August 9–15, 2018)
  • RI Sting Hockey Tournament (October 5–7, 2018)
  • RI Invitational Gymnastics (November 29–December 3, 2018)
  • Athletic Championships Cheer (January 23–27, 2019)

CVB/Sports Commissions Services Offered

  • Volunteer Staff
  • PR/Media Assistance
  • Signage
  • Site Visits
  • Transportation Assistance
  • Lodging Services
  • Grant Programs
  • Welcome Bags/Gifts
  • Itinerary Development
  • Event Planning Assistance

Click on tab to see more information about a specific facility

Dunkin’ Donuts Center

Dunkin’ Donuts Center

While Providence has no shortage of impressive sporting venues, the Dunkin’ Donuts Center stands out as “the” destination for sports in Rhode Island. The center features a 31,000 square foot arena floor and a 25,000 square foot concourse and can house a whopping 13,000 spectators. Though it was built in 1972, the center recently underwent an $80 million renovation. It has played host to major tournaments such as the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, and is open to sports planners looking to think big. As an added bonus, the center is perfect for event planning, as it connects directly to the Rhode Island Convention Center and adjacent hotel.

Sports: Basketball, cheerleading, hockey, multi-purpose

Rhode Island Convention Center

Rhode Island Convention Center

Credit: GoProvidence

If you’re looking for space, and lots of it, look no further than the Rhode Island Convention Center. Inside you’ll find a 100,000 square foot exhibition hall, a 20,000 square foot grand ballroom, and 23 multi-purpose meeting rooms. For added convenience, visitors can connect directly from the RICC to the Omni Providence hotel and Providence Place mall. Over the years, the RICC has hosted major events in cheerleading, dance, roller derby, and much more, so the sky’s the limit when planning your next event.

Sports: Cheerleading, dance, gymnastics, roller derby, multi-purpose

Brown University

Brown University

Providence is home to Brown University, one of the nation’s eight prestigious Ivy League schools. While it is renowned for its academics, the university also boasts a variety of outstanding venues that host regional and national events and allow sports planners plenty of options to meet their needs. Whether it’s the four newly renovated multipurpose outdoor fields (three turf and one natural grass), a pool rental in the new state-of-the-art aquatics center, use of the 20,000-seat stadium, or access to the boathouse situated along the Seekonk River, Brown University’s athletic facilities are top notch and a favorite among sports planners.

Sports: Basketball, crew, football, lacrosse, soccer, swimming, water polo, and much more

Providence Career and Technical Academy

This newly-opened school is home to some of Providence’s most state-of-the-art athletic facilities, and offers seating for around 1,800 people in a 65,000 square foot fieldhouse. Inside the gorgeous steel and glass building you will find space and amenities for sporting events such as track and field meets, basketball games/tournaments, cheerleading competitions, and much more – all just steps from the center of downtown.

Sports: Basketball, cheerleading, soccer, track and field, wrestling

Providence College

Providence College

Another prominent player in the local college athletics scene, Providence College offers athletes and groups access to a variety of high-quality venues that include a six-lane, 25-meter pool; a three-court racquetball complex; an all-purpose field house that can be interchanged for basketball, tennis, and volleyball; a variety of outdoor fields; and Schneider Arena, a state-of-the-art hockey facility, which can seat up to 3,000. All of this can be found on the gorgeous campus just north of downtown,

Sports: Basketball, hockey, football, racquetball, soccer, swimming, tennis, track and field, volleyball

International Tennis Hall of Fame

Rhode Island College

As sporting venues go, the International Tennis Hall of Fame is aces. Located in beautiful Newport, Rhode Island, the 13 manicured grass tennis courts and tranquil, historical charm make this an ideal locale for sporting events (including croquet and tennis). Private function space, complete with a state-of-the-art audio visual system, is available for meetings and receptions. Conveniently located on historic Bellevue Avenue, the hall is a forehand away from the city’s famed Cliff Walk, stunning mansions and idyllic beauty.

Sports: Tennis, croquet

University of Rhode Island


Credit: URI Athletics

Proud home of the Rhode Island Rams football team, the University of Rhode Island hosts arenas and fields fit for every sports team. One of its largest facilities is Meade Stadium, which seats over 5,000 spectators. Athletes looking to compete outdoors will also have access to the Bill Beck Baseball complex. This venue, complete with a new indoor batting facility, sports the same synthetic grass fields that the professionals play on. Soccer fans can cheer on the university’s team at the URI Soccer complex, whose 24 fields are comprised of both artificial and natural grass surfaces. Indoors, the 7,800-seat Ryan Center houses men’s and women’s basketball leagues and the Boss Arena is a 2,500-seat ice arena located right on campus. Restrooms and parking are located on-site.

Sports: Baseball, basketball, football, hockey, soccer, swimming

Things to do in Rhode Island

As a sports planner, you know how crucial it is to plan for time off the field. Of course, the pinnacle of a great sports event is just that – the sports. But a truly successful event incorporates fun, engaging activities that will provide fond memories for years to come. Thankfully, Providence is brimming with fun and family-friendly activities year around.

Pay a visit to over 150 animals at the Roger Williams Park Zoo, which is also one of the nation’s oldest zoos. Cheetahs, red pandas, snow leopards, American bison, and howler monkeys are just a few of the unique animals that call the zoo home. For another family-friendly outing in Providence check out the Providence Children’s Museum, where it’s easy to spend hours exploring the interactive hands-on exhibits. Children can build bridges and plan a city in the Iway exhibit, scale a two-story high climbing maze in The Climber, delight in the joys of water play at the Water Ways exhibit, and so much more. The Rhode Island School of Design, RISD, is one of the world’s leading institutions for art and designs and offers visitors a chance to explore its unique museum collections from around the world. Costumes and textiles, ancient and contemporary art, decorative arts, and much more are all found within the museum’s walls.

For a unique view of Providence, take a boat tour. The Providence River Boat Company welcomes you aboard their 18-passenger vessels where you will learn all about the sites from a knowledgeable tour guide. This experience was recently voted “Best Local Tour” in Rhode Island, so you know you’re in for a treat. For a premier entertainment, shopping, and dining destination, head to Providence Place, where you can be sure there is something for everyone in your group. With 160 stores and services spread over three levels, you can shop at a wide range of stores, indulge in any of the fast food or full-service dining options, and catch a movie at the Providence Place Cinemas.

Of course, there is so much more to Rhode Island beyond Providence. Head down to the gorgeous coastal town of Newport, with its glitz, glamour, and incredible views. You can tour The Breakers, a late 1800s Vanderbilt mansion, pay a visit to the International Tennis Hall of Fame, and stroll along the famous Newport Cliff Walk, a 3.5-mile shoreline trail that offers spectacular scenery of nearby mansions and the Narragansett Bay. You can also explore the quaint coastal towns that line the bay, which provide beach access and excellent places to unwind after any sports event.

Planner Perspective

It was a pleasure working with the Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau for our NFHS Summer Meeting in Providence (June 28-July 2, 2017). After signing the contract in 2013 to host our national conference in Providence, we knew without hesitation the city would be a great fit for our membership. All our meetings took place at the Rhode Island Convention Center and Dunkin’ Donuts Arena, making it convenient for attendees staying at the Omni and Hilton Providence hotels. The properties are also in a walkable location for hundreds of dining options and entertainment options. Our attendees were also able to enjoy a WaterFire lighting experience to start the week off with a bang and leave with an experience they’ll never forget! The NFHS and its membership is looking forward to their next conference in ‘The Ocean State!

National Federation of State High School Associations: Mark Koski, CMAA (Director of Sports, Events and Development)

We love holding the Athletic Championships in Providence. It’s the right mix of high-class facilities, quality amenities and convenient location — all at a budget friendly price point.

Athletic Championships: Cole Stott (President and General Manager)

How to Get to Rhode Island

By car: I-95 is the major thoroughfare that bisects the state, connecting visitors to the greater Boston area (about an hour away) and New York City (3 hours).

By rail: Providence and other cities within Rhode Island are served by Amtrak and regional train services like Boston’s MBTA. This provides visitors with plenty of extra travel options, whether or not they have access to a car.

By air: Six miles south of Providence you will find Green International Airport, which provides service to and from many major hubs such as Atlanta, Baltimore, Charlotte, Chicago, Orlando, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.

Contact Information

Company Name: Rhode Island Sports Commission

Sports Sales Manager: John Gibbons

Title: Executive Director

Telephone: 401-456-0240

Rhode Island’s Sports Scene Packs a Big Punch
Article Name
Rhode Island’s Sports Scene Packs a Big Punch
State-of-the-art venues and budget-friendly options abound in this New England sports hub
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